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2 Apr 2002
Close of consultation on Scottish Parliament size
222 organisations and individuals from all over Scotland have taken up Scottish Secretary Helen Liddells invitation to speak out on a key decision affecting Scotland and its people - the future size of the Scottish Parliament.
The deadline for responses to the Scotland Office consultation document The Size of the Scottish Parliament: A Consultationwas 29 March. Helen Liddell today said:
"Between its launch in December 2001 to the end of the consultation period last week, 783 copies of the consultation document were issued. It was accessed 1290 times on the Scotland Office website. 222 responses had been received by this morning.
"84 of these were from bodies representing a range of organisations at the heart of civic Scotland from the Scottish Executive, local authorities, electoral administrators and political parties to churches, industrial interests and trades unions.
"There have been 17 responses from MPs and 25 from MSPs and 96 other individuals and members of the public have written to me setting out their views.
"I value all these contributions from a significant and wide-ranging cross section of the community. They confirm that the issues raised in the consultation are relevant to everyone living in Scotland. I would today like to thank everyone who submitted a response for taking the time to do so.
"I will now give careful consideration to all of the views expressed and will publish in due course a summary of the responses. I hope to be in a position to announce the Governments decision on this important matter of the future size of the Scottish Parliament within a few months."
NOTES FOR NEWS EDITORS
1. The Scotland Act 1998 removed the guarantee of at least 71 Scottish seats at Westminster (there are now 72) and requires the Boundary Commission for Scotland to determine the level of Scottish representation by applying the same electoral quota as in England.
(At present, the average Scottish constituency comprises around 55,000 electors, while the average for English constituencies is around 70,000.) The Scotland Act also provides for the Scottish Parliament constituencies to be the same as the UK Parliament constituencies, except for Orkney and Shetland which each have their own MSP. The Boundary Commission published their provisional recommendations on new boundaries for Westminster constituencies in Scotland on 7 February.
2. The Scotland Act presently provides for an automatic reduction in the size of the Scottish Parliament when the number of MPs at Westminster representing Scottish constituencies is reduced.
3. The consultation set out the issues for and against a reduction in the size of the Scottish Parliament and argued that it would be important, in considering whether to retain or end the link between Westminster and Holyrood constituencies, to look at:
- The consequence of the reduction required by the Scotland Act on the operation of the Scottish Parliament, and in particular on the Committee system, the workload of MSPs, the service provided to constituents and the role of members elected from the list system.
- The issues arising in their relationship as constituency representatives between MPs, MSPs and councillors if the present number of MSPs were to be retained and non-coterminous boundaries between Westminster and the Scottish Parliament constituencies created, and how any difficulties could be overcome.
- The implications where shared constituency boundaries are not in place for electoral administrators and local authorities in relation to the registration of voters and the conduct of elections, and what would need to be done to ensure the effective and efficient running of the democratic process.
4. The consultation document makes clear that the Government has no plans to change the electoral system to the Scottish Parliament.
5. A summary of the responses received will be made available shortly on the Scotland Office website at www.scottishsecretary.gov.uk
Date: 2 Apr 2002